O'Brien Focused On Improvement, Not Concerned With Record After Win Against Chiefs

The Texans are among three AFC division leaders sitting at 4-2

Brandon Scott
October 14, 2019 - 11:46 am

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- With Sunday’s win against the Chiefs, the Texans took a half-game lead in the AFC South over the Indianapolis Colts, who they travel to face next week. 

The Texans are among three AFC division leaders sitting at 4-2. Houston’s losses are to the Saints in the season opener, and the Panthers at home Sept. 29. 

Both of those teams hold winning records through Week 6 (Saints at 5-1, Panthers at 4-2).

Of the four teams the Texans have beaten, only the Chiefs have won more than two games. 

Head coach Bill O’Brien said he isn’t reading too much into the team’s record. 

The Texans still have a lot to improve.

They need to tackle better. 

Will Fuller makes some big plays, but has to catch the ball with more consistency. 

Carlos Hyde is running it well, but has to take care of the ball.

Two weeks ago, Deshaun Watson needed to do a better job recognizing coverages, blitzes and getting the ball out quicker, which he’s done in the past two games.

The offensive line, after several shakeups, is also improving.

Watson went back-to-back games without getting sacked for the first time in his pro career.

“I think it’s an improvement league. And I think the teams that improve the most over the 16-game season are the ones that end up being where they want to be,” O’Brien said at Monday’s press conference. “I think if you don’t continue with that theme … I think you’re going to be in a bind. 

“So we’ve got to just take the approach of trying to getting better. This is a very, very humbling league. This league is very humbling from week to week. And you have to understand every week is a different challenge and this week’s challenge is totally different than last week’s challenge. It’s just a different team with a different scheme, great coaching staff. So I think our players understand that and they’ll try to approach it that way.”

A key area in which the team’s improved early in the season is on third-down. 

The Texans against the Chiefs converted 5-of-12 third-down attempts (42 percent), 2-of-3 fourth down attempts (67 percent), 4-of-6 red zone attempts (67 percent) and 3-of-4 goal-to-go attempts (75 percent).

Against the Falcons the week before, they converted 10-of-13 third-down attempts (77 percent), 4-of-5 red zone attempts (80 percent) and 3-of-3 goal-to-go attempts (100 percent).

The Texans are tied for the best third-down percentage in the league.

O’Brien said the key to that success has been manageable third downs

Related: Staying Ahead of the Chains the Key to the Texans' Offense

When early in a down you can average 3 to 4 yards, or even more, it helps with decision-making and allows more room for error. More weapons and ideas are at the offense’s disposal.

The Texans were not very good in this area against Carolina, which put them in too many 3rd-and-long situations. 

They were much better against Atlanta and Kansas City.

“That’s what we’ve got to continue to do,” O’Brien said. “If we’re not in manageable third downs, we’ve got a problem. So when we were 3rd and 12 in the red area yesterday, we had a problem. But when we’re in 3rd and 3, or 3rd and 2, there’s a little bit more room for error there. You’ve got a lot of different weapons that you can choose from and that’s what we have to keep doing. We’ve got to do a good job of staying on schedule.”

The Texans face the Colts on Sunday, Oct. 20 at Lucas Oil Stadium. It will be a noon game locally on CBS.

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